5 Tips to get your kids to do what you want them to without manipulation, bribery or threats. It’s a lot easier and more fun than you might think.

Whether it’s getting our kids out of bed and ready for school or getting them to do homework after school, brush their teeth or clean up their room, getting our kids to do the things we want them to can be a daily struggle that can lead to screaming matches and huge amounts of frustration for many parents, and their kids. This is no way to start or end a productive and enjoyable day and in fact can keep the life we really want to have out of our reach. But there are techniques you can use, and I use them daily, that will eliminate, or at least dramatically lesson the struggle to get your kids to do exactly what you want them to, and the best part is that it doesn’t involve having to bribe them, manipulate them or to get angry and use threats. The benefits of using these simple activities with your kids can alter the path of their lives, and yours. Using these tips at home every day has increase the level of happiness in my house as I imagined it would. My two young boys have developed the ability to quickly resolve the inevitable issues that brothers will face, they have developed a connection that enables them to work together as a team, and they have a lot of fun being around one another and we are all so much happier.

I will share a few techniques with you in this article I use every day that will not only get your kids to do what you want them too, but will also greatly increase your connection to them and instill habits that will help them be, do and have the things in their own life that they really want.

Wants vs. Don’t Wants

It makes perfect sense doesn’t it that we are more likely to manifest into our experience that which we focus our thoughts and emotions upon? The human brain works in mysterious and yet almost predictable ways at times. If we repeatedly tell ourselves we are incapable of achieving something, then we likely will not achieve it, or if we tell ourselves people are mean and untrustworthy we will believe it to be true and we will become untrusting and less likely to develop and maintain strong relationships.

Henry Ford had it right when he said “whether you think you can or you think you can’t, either way you are right” as have so many others throughout history. When we focus our attention toward that which we DO NOT WANT we are so much more likely to get exactly that which we DO NOT WANT! If we want to REMEMBER something it is counter productive to focus our attention on not FORGETTING it because our thoughts and feelings are focused on forgetting, not remembering. When we are told we can’t or shouldn’t do something our thoughts tend to go directly to “what if I did it” and we see this clearly in children and have felt it ourselves. You can probably see a pattern here because I know I saw it crystal clear. With my own kids I would tell them things like “don’t forget you backpack for school” and “please don’t throw your socks around your room” or “please don’t just take something off and just drop it.” You guessed it! They would forget their backpack, throw socks around their room and remove their cloths and drop them where they stand. I remember having a conversation with my eleven year old about why he shouldn’t stay up late on school nights. That discussion persisted and went on and on because he always seemed to have a response as to why he “should” be able to stay up late. As soon as I switched to explaining the huge benefits of getting enough sleep and why he might want to consider making the choice to get enough sleep, everything changed and I have not had a bedtime issue ever since. This spilled over onto his younger eight year old brother too and he to goes to bed without an issue.

A Habit from the Past

I started to reflect back on my own childhood and saw how the cycle simply repeats itself. My parents did the exact same thing! They of course were always telling me what they did NOT WANT me to do. I can vividly recall my mom saying “don’t forget your…” whatever it was. Or the old “don’t be late or else…” When I was a teenager if I was told I can’t do something like go out with friends for a weekend or that I “shouldn’t” for whatever the reason, I wanted to even more. I believe it is likely my Grandparents said similar things to my parents when they were kids too. This repeated way of thinking and taking about the things we do not want becomes instilled as a habit and this habit we carry with us throughout our lives. We then pass this habit on to our children and it is likely when they become parents they will do the same thing.

Physical habits like psychological habits will either prove beneficial to our lives or be very anti-productive and prevent us from living the lives we really want to live. The habit of thinking about things we don’t want is not a habit than can be broken but rather needs to be replaced by an alternate way of thinking, repetitively, and by helping our kids develop this habit can have nothing but positive effects on the rest of their life, not to mention our own as parents and teachers. In fact, not changing this habit becomes a significant stumbling block to all achievement.

Breaking the Cycle/Replacing the Habit

It will be much easier for your kids to change the habit of talking and thinking about things they don’t want than it will be for you. This is simply because you may have held on to this habit for much longer, so it is very important that you make the conscious effort to replace your own habitual way of thinking. You will be the model for your children to do the same I encourage you to try and notice how many times throughout your day you find yourself thinking about something you don’t want to happen or going somewhere you don’t want to go. Then try and notice how many times your kids do the same (“I don’t want that for dinner, I don’t want to go to bed, I don’t want to go to school today, I don’t want to go there or I hope it doesn’t…)

It has been said that a habit can be replaced by repeating the same thoughts, actions and behaviors for 30 days or more, and though at first it may seem to be quite a challenge it becomes easier and easier as each day passes. Before long the new habit has completely replaced the old, and the lifetime of benefits far outweigh any effort it takes to get there.

How we praise our children and how often we thank them for being who they are, for doing well toward others or mindfully making choices that make them proud of themselves and making you proud, is very important. Our acknowledging them for their effort and recognizing them for using their character strengths as often as possible will give them self-confidence and a great sense of pride. They will want this experience more and more.

• Tip #1

Make it a Game

In our house we play the weekly Wants and Don’t Wants Game. It is fun and really easy and here is how it works:

I hang on the refrigerator a sheet of paper with each of our names written across the top and vertical lines so each name has a column. If you are caught by anyone in the family talking about or saying something that you Don’t Want you get a check mark under your name on the sheet of paper on the fridge. This game is so much fun and you might be surprised how many times your kids catch you.

The weekly game is over on Friday morning and we tally up the checkmarks. The person with the LEAST number of checkmarks gets to pick the Friday Night Dinner and Movie. So not only does this fun little game help replace a self-limiting habit but it also encourages family connectedness.

• Tip# 2

Music Helps the Mood in Morning

When I thought about how I WANT the mornings to go smoothly as we get up, have breakfast and get ready for school and start our day, I thought that mellow soothing music might just help the process and the result has been amazing! Every morning I set the radio on my stereo to the public radio station that plays mellow classical music and I turn it on low as I wake the boys. As we sit and have breakfast the beautiful sound lightly floats in the background and it seems to set a mood of relaxing into the morning routine. Things seem to flow much better with a background of soothing music.

• Tip# 3

Sharing Thoughts

In the morning try to have your conversations at breakfast and throughout the morning focus on how well you want your day to go and what you can do to make it unfold the way you want. Talk about things you are grateful for with your kids and encourage them to share their thoughts of gratitude with you and how they want to create a great day for themselves and how they can make it happen.

At the end of the day share with one another the good things that happened that day. This reinforces that when we focus on how we want things to go we are more likely to experience life that way. This does not mean that you discount the things that didn’t go the way you had hoped. It is very valuable for your children to hear you discuss how your reaction to things that don’t go your way will determine the outcome in terms of how you can find the leaning experience and grow from things not always going the way we had hoped or wanted them too. You can help your children find the same in the situations that occur in their lives that don’t go the way they had wanted. If you look hard enough you can always find a positive learning experience in something that appears to be negative, and once it is found your entire perception of the event changes. As the famous quote goes; “Change the way you look at things and the things you look at will change.”

• Tip# 4

Pick an “I am…” for the Day

As we drive to school each morning we choose a way we want to be that day by looking at our strengths. For example being helpful or caring or focused or friendly and being mindful of that strength and living into it today. Recognizing how using our strengths makes us and those around us feel makes us want to use them more and more and promotes a positive feeling of self-worth and confidence. Again, the benefits of this activity far outweigh the effort and will last forever.

• Tip# 5

What do you REALLY WANT?

This is just one of the life changing questions you can ask yourself albeit one of the most important and one that seems to unlock a door to possibility and purpose and adds the component of meaning into your life. This is also one of the questions that many develop the habit of asking the complete opposite of, “what don’t I want” and wonder why it is they seem to keep experiencing things they don’t want.

The key to dispelling the thoughts of the things we don’t want and replacing them with thoughts of the things we do want is to first list the things you don’t want. I know this may sound counter productive at first but stick with me. In fact for many people it is easier to think of things they don’t want because that is where more attention goes and has for a long time. It’s the wants that can be more challenging but there is an easy way to find them. Try to do these exercises with your children because getting them to have fun focusing their thoughts on what they truly want will have tremendous effect.

Take a sheet of paper and draw a vertical line down the center. Over the left column write the heading Don’t Want and over the right column write My Wants.

The beginning of this exercise does get you to think about things you do not want, but don’t worry, they will be removed. Begin by listing by number in the Don’t Want column all of the things that come to mind about what you don’t want, for example “I don’t want to be in debt”, “I don’t want my kids to fight”, “I don’t want my wife and I to fight”, “I don’t want to be overweight”, “I don’t want to go to work every day” and so on. Feel free to use my examples in your own Don’t Wants

Great! Now directly across from each Don’t Want listed, under the Wants column write the exact opposite thought. For example, “I want prosperity and abundance” “I want my children to get along” “I want to get along great with my wife” “I want to be healthier and weigh __ lbs.” “I want to do what I love for a living” and so on.

Now the fun part is to cut the along the vertical line in the middle of the page, take the Don’t Wants and destroy them. Cut them into tiny little pieces and throw them in the recycle container. Now all that you have left to focus your thoughts on are the things you actually want in your life and by focusing on those things every day you will begin to receive inspired thoughts about things you can do or ways you can be to manifest your wants into your experience.

The key is to revisit this list every day and remind yourself constantly of what you really want. You may find resistance pops up, but you already have the power to overcome resistance and believe that your mind is far more powerful than you can imagine.

Your children will benefit tremendously by taking part in these activities with you and you will discover together your true wants and desires and take action toward them with the love, support and encouragement of one another.

Introduce your child to the experience of what it takes to be happy with The Ultimate Kid’s Guide to Happiness, an E-Book for your children that you can download for FREE at www.kidscandoanything.com.

Author's Bio: 

Patrick McMillan, in addition to being a stay at home dad, is the author of An Exercise in Happiness, and Attracting Happiness. Emotional growth and Character Education programs for elementary and middle school aged kids. Designed to be easily implemented at home or in the classroom. Visit www.KidsCanDoAnything.com for details.